Coordinated Health Bariatrics

10 Health Problems That Drastically Improve After Weight Loss Surgery

By: fdesouza   November 8, 2018
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Obesity is directly related to many serious health conditions, from the obvious, like diabetes, to the less evident, like severe headaches. “Obesity pretty much affects every system in the human body from head to toe,” explains bariatric surgeon Dr. Venkat. “Weight has a role in almost every condition.”

If you suffer from severe obesity (defined by a body mass index over 35), bariatric surgery may be the answer to improving or resolving multiple health problems related to weight. Here’s a rundown of ten serious conditions related to severe obesity and how weight loss surgery can help improve them.

 

1. Headaches

Obesity can lead to pseudotumor cerebri, a condition where the pressure in your skull increases as if you had a brain tumor even though you don’t. Headache is the most common symptom, but you may also experience blurred or dimmed vision, double vision, dizziness, nausea, and neck pain.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

After bariatric surgery, the pressure in your cranium lessens significantly, which leads to fewer and less severe headaches. You’ll begin to see improvement within a month of surgery, according to Dr. Venkat. Some patients may even see a significant improvement in their vision after surgery.

Related: Coordinated Health Has the Most Comprehensive Surgical Weight Loss Program in the Lehigh Valley

2. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition where breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or longer during sleep, and it’s very common in people with obesity. During sleep, when your tongue and throat muscles are at their most relaxed, excess fatty tissue causes your airway to become blocked. It causes severe snoring and usually requires the use of a sleep apnea machine (CPAP) at night to assist breathing.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

As you lose weight rapidly in the weeks and months after surgery, that excess fatty tissue goes away. Dr. Venkat says snoring typically improves significantly in the weeks after surgery and majority of patients generally don’t need their sleep apnea machines within 3 to 6 months.

3. Asthma

Obesity is a risk factor for developing asthma and worsening asthma symptoms. The connection between obesity and asthma is not fully understood, according to the American Lung Association, but carrying extra weight around the lungs and abdomen may constrict the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe. Obesity is also associated with other conditions that are risk factors for asthma, including sleep apnea.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

Losing a lot of weight means your lungs don’t need to work as hard. You’ll be less likely to experience shortness of breath during daily activities and exercise. According to Dr. Venkat, patients generally see an improvement in asthma symptoms within 3 to 6 months after surgery.

4. Diabetes

Obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a condition where the body does not properly convert food into energy. The stomach’s job is to turn food into glucose (sugar), which is then delivered to our cells by insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it efficiently, which causes the glucose to build up in your blood. Diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

“If we do surgery early on, we can totally stop the progression of the disease,” Dr. Venkat says. Eighty to 85 percent of patients see significant improvement with diabetes, and many completely stop medications. Patients also experience noticeable improvement in quality of life and a significant reduction in mortality risk.

5. Heart Disease Risk Factors

Obesity is linked to many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and increased atherosclerosis (a precursor to heart disease and coronary heart disease).

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

Weight loss surgery, nutrition counseling, and exercise training all help to resolve or greatly reduce these heart disease risk factors. Several large population studies have found that individuals affected by severe obesity who have had bariatric surgery have a lower risk of death than individuals affected by obesity who do not have surgery. “One of these studies found a greater than 50 percent reduction in death from heart disease following weight loss surgery due to improvement or resolution of heart disease risk factors,” Dr. Venkat says.

6. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

When you gain weight, fat doesn’t only show up in the places you can see from the outside. Fat also builds up in your internal organs, especially the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when fat cells replace liver cells, and it’s common in people with obesity. Most patients with NAFLD have significant metabolic disease (diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease). NAFLD can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which causes inflammation and cell damage, and, eventually, liver failure and cirrhosis.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

After bariatric surgery, the fat that’s built up in your liver will melt away just like the fat that you can see on the outside of your body, reversing the condition or stopping the progression of the disease. As obesity is the most significant risk factor for NAFLD, bariatric surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment.

7. Acid Reflux Disease

Acid reflux disease is very common in people with obesity. At the entrance to your stomach, there’s a ring of muscle that opens and closes to let food pass from your esophagus into your stomach. Ordinarily, this muscle closes quickly after the food has passed through. However, if you have acid reflux disease, the muscle does not close all the way (or it opens up too frequently), allowing stomach acid to escape into your esophagus. This causes heartburn. Acid reflux disease will progressively get worse without treatment, and over time the esophagus will change to adapt to the acid, which may lead to cancer after many years.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

Dr. Venkat explains that gastric bypass surgery is recommended for bariatric patients with severe acid reflux disease because it reduces the size of the stomach, bypassing most of the area where stomach acid is produced. This means that there won’t be any acid to reflux into the esophagus. Patients will notice a reduction of symptoms almost immediately after surgery.

8. Joint and Back Pain

Carrying extra weight causes increased pressure on your joints and spine, which may lead to chronic pain. That pressure can also wear down cartilage, leading to osteoarthritis.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

Losing weight takes a lot of stress off of your joints and back. It can also prevent more cartilage from wearing away. Dr. Venkat adds that losing weight is a prerequisite to joint replacement surgery, so if you have obesity and need a knee, hip, or ankle replacement, bariatric surgery might be the first step.

9. Depression

Depression and obesity often go hand in hand. Depression can be a symptom of weight gain, but the opposite is true too: weight gain can be a symptom of depression. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43 percent of adults with depression are also obese.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

After losing a significant amount of weight, people often feel happier. You’re able to get around better and do more activities, including spending time with family and friends. A psychiatrist will typically need to adjust your medications or may even eliminate them entirely.

10. Edema

Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body tissue. It can occur anywhere in the body, but it usually effects the legs, feet, arms, and hands. It’s common in people with obesity. Edema is also a symptom of diabetes as wall as a common side effect of medications for high blood pressure.

How bariatric surgery makes a difference:

Losing weight can help eliminate edema. Bariatric surgery also resolves type-2 diabetes for the majority of patients and improves high blood pressure, so you may be able to end or reduce your medication.

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Keywords

bariatric surgery, Dr. Venkat, Weight Loss